Meet the Breed: The Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa Apso is a small, sturdy dog with a long curtain of a coat that extends from the nose to the tip of the curled-over tail. The body is longer than it is tall. The eyes are brown and deep set. The ears are pendulous with very long feathering. The nose is black. The coat grows very long, parting down the top of the dog from the nose to the tail. Pet owners often opt to keep this breed in a puppy cut for ease of care. The double coat is hard and neither silky nor very woolly. The tail is set high and cork-screws over the back with the plume of fur cascading over the body. The coat comes in an array of colors, often with dark tips.
The Lhasa Apso was kept as a watchdog in monasteries in the isolated mountains of Tibet. They were domesticated and actively bred as early as 800 B.C., making them one of the oldest recognized breeds in the world. They were kept as household sentinels by the nobility and monks. They were considered sacred and bringers of luck. Due to the isolation of the area and their value, they were never sold. A few were brought back to England by military men stationed in the region of India in the early 1900s. It wasn't until a pair was gifted to C. Suydam Cutting by the Dalai Lama in 1933 that there were any in the United States. At this time, there was only one registered in England, so this illustrates how rare the Lhasa Apso was outside of the Himalayas. The adaptations these hardy little dogs have had to deal with in the harsh mountain climate for thousands of years have ensured that these are long-lived and healthy dogs.
The Lhasa Apso has a unique personality in that they are a study in contrasts. They are cheerful, yet suspicious of strangers; stubborn and independent, yet often loving and loyal. They are intelligent but often have "selective hearing." Perhaps their inner diva personality has been overly developed through the hundreds of years as favored palace pets, so calm confident leadership must be used with this dog to keep them from developing Small Dog Syndrome. Keep lessons fun and consistent, and you can have a great family companion who can be successful in agility or obedience. Early socialization with lots of people and situations will help mitigate the natural suspicion this breed carries.
Breed Club Links: The American Lhasa Apso Club
BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: UGroom Combo Brush
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Photo courtesy of Asra Valorshon.